Over the summer, Eric and I were gifted with the amazing experience of going on an Alaskan cruise. As a Florida native, this was definitely a mind-blowing experience for me. All of the snow, ice, and mountains were just astonishingly beautiful. I’ve traveled to a lot of places, but Alaska is truly its own unique adventure. Our favorite part of the entire trip was actually an excursion to go heli-hiking in Juneau to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was so amazing and there are honestly a million reasons to go heli-hiking in Alaska.
Heli-Hiking is a MUST DO. It combines two awesome activities: Riding in a helicopter and hiking! Most heli-hiking excursions in Alaska start with a preparation time. You gear up, are given tips, and prepare for the endeavor. But the endeavor itself is an adventure you will never forget.
Reason One: Helicopters Are Awesome.
Before this adventure, I had never ridden in a helicopter. To be honest, Eric and I were actually supposed to heli-hike in New Zealand on our honeymoon, but we mixed up the dates and the weather didn’t agree! So this opportunity was one we really could pass up. All of the excursions include a “Scenic Flight” portion. The views speak for themselves. Most of the flights are about 15 minutes long and fly you around the top of the glacier. From here, we were able to see Juneau, the mountains, waterfalls, and the extent of the gigantic glacier itself.
Reason Two: Heli-hiking in Alaska means extreme adventure.
If you are like Eric and I, adventure is everything. We love anything that looks a little crazy and a lot cool. Heli-hiking was exactly that. The concept of hiking on a glacier in Alaska was just too cool (no pun intended) to pass up. The hike itself was actually more difficult than you might imagine. In fact, they actually require that you have a pre-flight “meeting” to get to know your gear.
In order to hike, you needed to learn how to use crampons and an ice pick. This was a new experience for both Eric and I, and it came with a bit of a learning curve. The hike itself was more strenuous than I thought it would be because it require extra pressure in every step so that your crampon would grip in the ice. Part of this hike also involve scaling small hills which required the use of the ice-axe.
While none of this was extremely difficult, you do need a certain amount of athletic ability to be able to enjoy the adventure successfully. Likewise, keep in mind that the majority of the hikes are 2+ hours. If you have trouble in high-altitudes or hiking, I would opt for the “scenic flight” excursion and skip the hiking portion.
Reason Three: The Views are Indescribable
Hiking on a glacier was just a truly indescribable time. From ice-caves to ice-caverns, the glacier truly outdoes itself. Besides the fact that you are up high in the Alaskan mountains, you also get to experience the one of kind ice formations that are on the glacier! Glaciers are constantly moving and changing, so what you see one day may never exist like that again. This makes for a truly unique experience.
One thing that really shocked me about the glacier itself was just how BLUE everything was. I guess I always expected ice to be white, like snow. However, the glacier actually traps water under the ice causing this awesome blue color to shine through. Scroll below to see for yourself.
Reason Four: It’s Time Sensitive
We all know that global warming is affecting the polar ice-caps, but what we don’t always realize is just HOW quickly it is affecting these amazing natural wonders. The Mendenhall Glacier is rapidly and visibly retreating more and more every year. (Read More).
This not only means that the world needs to take action (duh), but it also means that YOU need to take action to make sure that you can experience this adventure before it’s too late. This adventure is time sensitive, when there is no more glacier, there is no more heli-hiking. Now is the time to take the jump and get out there.